When Jeff Bryer discovers a new passion, he commits to it.
The hallway cupboard of his Burnaby home holds over 200 board games that he loves playing. His basement holds an impressive collection of 36 antique axes, swords and daggers.
It’s no surprise then that when he discovered a passion for volunteering in 2003 he jumped in and hasn’t stopped, making him one of APSA’s longest standing volunteers.
Isolated in a small IT department, Jeff was looking for a way to meet fellow staff when his boss recommended joining APSA’s Board of Directors. “I’d heard about APSA before, but I was curious about the work they did behind-the-scenes,” he explains.
The first surprise was the amount of advocacy work.
“It’s one of those services that you don’t think about until you need it. Because of confidentiality you don’t hear about it, but APSA is there for a lot of people. It’s one of our most important services,” Jeff says.
Jeff was a quick learner; in short order he moved from Director to Vice-President and then President. As President he had the opportunity to interact with staff from all three campuses, including SFU senior staff.
“Making connections with other people has been my favourite thing about volunteering with APSA,” Jeff notes.
At dinner in Chinatown, he recalls hearing his name called from across the room. He turned to see then SFU President Michael Stevenson waving.
“My parents asked how the President of SFU knew me. It was from the APSA Board’s quarterly meetings together. It was so neat to know that the President knew my name," Jeff says.
Over 14 years, Jeff is proud of the work that’s been accomplished. He lent his IT experience to the APSA Central project, transforming the Association’s static website into a robust, multilevel site and knowledge base. He worked on the Association’s visions and goals and helped hire two out of three APSA staff.
It can be difficult work at times, but there’s always a laugh involved, Jeff notes. “My funniest moment was awarding Ken Thornton with the Golden Plunger Award. It’s an actual plunger for the APSA volunteer who’s dealt with the most um…‘stuff’ that year.”
When asked for how many more years he plans on volunteering, Jeff pauses to think about it. He smiles and then answers, “I figured out that I have nine years left before retirement. So nine years. If they’ll still have me.”